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Old 08-19-2022, 08:40 AM   #1
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Alignment impossible?!

Odd situation here. Took our 2017 Forest River Berkshire into a truck wheel and alignment place 2 weeks ago before a 2000 mile trip for a front end alignment.

Picked it up, drove home in stop and go traffic and noticed the steering wheel still canted to the left, as if it was pulling to the right still. Got on the road 3 days later and once on the highway, the rig was still pulling right, maybe even worse than before.

When I called Buck's in Ft. Worth, they said your Freightliner has large air bags and thick steel plates making it impossible to shim and keep it aligned. But they charged me anyway. He also said the right tire had some cupping which he thought added to the pull.

Taking it back in this morning now that we are home to have him explain why they charged me for an alignment they were apparently unable to perform.

So is it true, no Freightliner Classic chassis can be aligned due to air bags and 'thick' plates?! That seems hard to believe.

Keith Quigley
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Old 08-19-2022, 07:34 PM   #2
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Apparently you have a straight axel so it would need shims added to align but there is no reason that the air bags would prevent that. It is a bit of work so maybe the mechanic didn't want to invest the time. I am sure it can be done.
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Old 08-20-2022, 04:26 AM   #3
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That's pretty rotten that they take your $$$ and then informed you that the alignment cannot be done. Check out Cowser Tires on north 820.
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Old 08-20-2022, 05:47 AM   #4
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Alignment to many is a dark science. Apparently, the truck alignment shop the OP used is in the dark as well.

The only adjustment by shims on a solid front axle truck chassis is caster. You would shim each side equally. If both sides are not equal, the axle needs to be bent to correct this condition.

I found a basic description of alignment principles HERE.

Hope this helps people be more informed when dealing with alignment shops.
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Old 08-20-2022, 06:03 AM   #5
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Why would you all assume it has straight axle suspension ?

Here is a screenshot from a brochure of that rig.
Sure looks like independent suspension to me.Click image for larger version

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Old 08-20-2022, 07:50 AM   #6
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I had pretty much the same situation with my 2020 FL... Took it to a couple of shops to get an alignment and was basically told the same thing. I ended up taking it to the FL Service Center in Gaffney, and they told me the alignment was in spec, but the ride height needed to be adjusted on one side. That took care of my issue... May want to have them look at the ride height.
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Old 08-20-2022, 01:40 PM   #7
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Duane, that's interesting you were told that. I can't think there has been any significant change between the 2019 and 2020 front end. Do you have a solid front axle or IFS?

The only reason they can't put shims in the solid front axle is because they are trying to put then in the wrong place, or they don't have the right size shim. Most trucks use a 4" or 4 1/2" shim and the Freightliner RV chassis uses a 3 1/2" shim. My Freightliner dealer didn't have any 3 1/2" shims so after I told them what I wanted installed, I took the two shims home, one 3* and one 3 1/2*, and trimmed then down 1/4" on each side so they would fit.
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Old 08-21-2022, 11:42 AM   #8
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Alan, I have a solid front axle the same as you have... And the the second to the last shop was able to align to factory specs. After the alignment, I was still experiencing the same issue as the OP with the coach pulling slightly to the right.

I took the coach to the Gaffney Factory Service Center where they found the ride height needed to be adjusted on one side. The tech went on a ride with me afterwards to make sure the issue was taken care of. He told me that if the ride height was out of adjustment, then the coach would pull to one side. The coach now has no pulling to either direction. It tracks straight and true down the road. The alignment shops that I went to prior did not check the ride height, which turned out to be my issue...
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Old 08-21-2022, 12:29 PM   #9
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Duane, really interesting to hear that an air bag adjustment would improve how it drives, unless one rear bag was significantly out of adjustment. I've adjusted my ride height a couple of times since I've had the coach, some adjustment the first time, second time was just taking the measurements to confirm they hadn't changed.

I have my own alignment settings I use which are outside of Freightliners recommended specs. In my opinion it makes the coach drive easier and doesn't get pushed around by the wind as much. Have done this to my last four coaches, 2 Fords and 2 Freightliners.
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Old 08-21-2022, 05:57 PM   #10
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First of all you need to find a place that can actually do a proper alignment on a straight axle coach. I would suggest Josham's in Orlando, FL.



Second the problem with your coach is not the front end being out of alignment but the rear axle being out of alignment with the centerline of the coach which is quite common on a Freightliner XCS chassis. You need a 4 wheel thrust angle alignment to properly align the coach. Once again this is a specialty of Josham's.


I had the same problem until I took to Josham's. Then no more pulling since.
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Old 08-22-2022, 03:07 PM   #11
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More to the story. I went back on Friday last week and asked them to explain about why they charged me when they admitted they could not actually do the alignment. While I was waiting for one of the service guys to go talk to a mechanic, an older gentleman asked me if I was being helped.

I told him the brief story and walked away saying he would look into it. Apparently, that was 'Buck'. The service guy returned and had a little more explanation, saying they didn't have the *right* shims to adjust camber. He also told me the owner said to refund my money, which was nice and somewhat unexpected.

I have done business with Cowser before, and they quoted $375 for an alignment vs. the $180 at Bucks. Suppose we will double our money and give them a try.

And on a totally different mechanical note, when I parked after returning, I noticed our hydraulics were leaking. Lots of fluid on the drive. So, more service work needed apparently! Dang

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Old 08-22-2022, 06:57 PM   #12
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My 2019 45A was scuffing the passenger side tag tire. It also pulled to the right. The steering wheel was off center to the left maybe 10 degrees. Took it to Gaffney and they said the alignment was within specifications and the wheel couldnít be straightened. Still had the pull. Got home and took the coach to Garden Spot Truck alignment near New Holland PA. They had it for 2 days and found the drive axle was out of alignment by 5/16Ē or the thrust angle was out. The drive axle was not perpendicular to the frame. We put two new tires on the front and moved one of the front tires to replace the worn tag tire. The drive axle has eccentric bushings on it to allow the axle to be moved front or back. The shop specializes in trucks and did an excellent job. They also straightened out the steering wheel by adjusting the drag link. The coach drives an steers like a dream. So much for Gaffney. I wasnít impressed.
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Old 08-22-2022, 08:25 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightshifter View Post
So much for Gaffney. I wasnít impressed.
I've been to the Freightliner Service Center twice in Gaffney and had to have their repairs redone correctly both times. NO MORE
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Old 08-29-2022, 09:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithQ View Post
Odd situation here. Took our 2017 Forest River Berkshire into a truck wheel and alignment place 2 weeks ago before a 2000 mile trip for a front end alignment.

Picked it up, drove home in stop and go traffic and noticed the steering wheel still canted to the left, as if it was pulling to the right still. Got on the road 3 days later and once on the highway, the rig was still pulling right, maybe even worse than before.

When I called Buck's in Ft. Worth, they said your Freightliner has large air bags and thick steel plates making it impossible to shim and keep it aligned. But they charged me anyway. He also said the right tire had some cupping which he thought added to the pull.

Taking it back in this morning now that we are home to have him explain why they charged me for an alignment they were apparently unable to perform.

So is it true, no Freightliner Classic chassis can be aligned due to air bags and 'thick' plates?! That seems hard to believe.

Keith Quigley
Keith,
First of all, there isn't a motorhome out there that can't be aligned. If that were true, the word would get out immediately and NO ONE would be purchasing that brand/model(s). If yours has air bags, BIG DEAL! Air bags are just part of the suspension. It's the axle and related structural components that are adjusted for alignment. There are plenty of heavy-duty truck repair/alignment centers all around this country. Apparently, you found one that is clueless.

Now, you don't say whether or not you have IFS (Independent Front Suspension) or a solid front axle. Either one can be aligned without issue. That's not to say it's not gonna be cheap, not at all. We live in lake Havasu and there's really no good heavy duty alignment shops here. So, a good friend took his 2014 American Dream 42' Tandem axle to Phoenix and the company there took good care of him. They had hookups for you to stay connected when you arrive and are awaiting your turn. They did a 3 axle alignment the next day and it was around $500 if I recall. His coach drives like a Lincoln now. So yes, yours can be aligned.
Scott
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